A man once decided to live across Tower Clock; a green roof, red brick that lent it’s sharp edge to the steep intersection of two streets of the great city of Haule. The pavements of Haule were storybook grey stone, and the flowers in the balconies pink as whale tongues. I can compare because I live on the top floor of a building in the sea workers colony, and the whales my father and other workers pull onto the beach make one final contribution to the aesthetics of Haule; dropping their pink tongues out to greet the sky.
For a while let me pretend I do not wake up to the wail of a trapped sea creature or the anxious yells of workmen suddenly hopeful of getting their wages. Let me be in the middle of Haule, watching the man who decided to live across Tower Clock. The man has a not-unusual beard, just as frizzled and grey-black as real folk do, at least in Haule, but perhaps not in Hollywood. He has a plain red coat, although I like to think it was a plain grey before he bled through.
The man, with his beard anchoring his chin to the lapels of his coat was resting, one noon, when the keeper of Tower Clock poked his hand. His skin, crisp from the salt air from the sea didn’t make her any happier than she had been all last week, observing his presence. He was like the cat downhill, that everyone knew was in the church, never needing to actually see her there. Everyone knew he existed; nobody wanted to see him exist.
In any case, he had shown himself, like whale tongues eventually showing themselves to the sky, and Haule was at a standstill. The keeper, she had heard enough stories for a lifetime. She wasn’t scared of finding her money stolen, or her daughter taken, or even her precious green roof broken in. All she cared, about this unlikeable man and any other, was that he had not looked at her through the queue of windows in Tower Clock.
The man only seemed to care about the gate of Tower Clock. The gate of Tower Clock was the most insignificant component of the building, perhaps of the entire two streets on which Tower Clock stood, and if anyone had noticed this fact before, this in itself would have made the gate significant. But it was too late now, and it was sheer outrage that a man should camp across Tower Clock for seven days and look at the gate, when just behind the gate was the loveliest thirty year old of Haule.
People didn’t age in Haule, they centralized. The farther a citizen of the most ethical city on the planet was from its center, a structure not far from Tower Clock, the younger they were considered, in life, ideas and morals. The fact that I live at the edge makes me an equivalent of a chronologically young babe. Then, the fact that my father lives with me says more about his socially understood intellect than can be said about mine, and consequently whale pulling is not a demanding work. In the center of Haule, in a palace of incongruous white brick, chiseled smooth, sleeps a one month old who had cooed when the priest made a grammatical error in a sermon once.
The keeper of Haule holds the two month old in high regard. She does not, however, hold the man across her home in any. While she waited for him to break his obnoxious, silent, shut-eye reverie, and acknowledge her presence, or more physically, her poke, she decided with each semi-second that his feet had no place on the respectable grey stones of her city. His filthy, hard soles could not walk the smooth-
He opened his eyes. It was like they were never shut.
The waves on the beaches of Haule would have rushed to greet estranged sea drops, and pearls that stiffened from the wax of the sea would have shone to welcome brothers, for his eyes were blue and white and endless and liquid.
She gaped, and it hurt, looking at them hurt, until she painfully forced them to settle on the base of his nose, between his eyes. So hoarse looked his skin that her eyes fled to look at his again, checking if this was indeed the same man. Suddenly, she was grateful that he had never looked at her, and would have knelt by his feet had he not closed his eyes again, not having acknowledged anything.
This is a man who can move mountains, she thought, for that was the only way she knew to understand greatness. She turned, clutched her belly, and slowly went back to her Tower Clock and closed the gate on the man with the eyes of the sea.
The town folk talked. It was Sunday, they had nothing else to do, and they would have done the same had it been Monday. It is of same credit to the people of Haule that nobody accused the sea-eyed man of wizardry. No, they knew much better than that. Of course, he was just a man from Hollywood. In the pastel coloured town they knew, no man had ever had an eye shade too divergent from the grey of spiderwebs. But in Hollywood, the counties and wens they saw on screens, men had all sorts of eyes, all sorts of hair, all sorts of ages too. So of course he was from Hollywood. A minute later they realized that custom required that they go grab autographs, frame them and hang them under every roof in Haulle, like the common clock.
Hence the mob flocked. I watched from where I had watched everything, including the secret nighttime repairing of the infallible Tower Clock. They waved shredded strips of newspaper in his face, their courage as strong as the keeper woman’s before she had seen his eyes. It was the Sunday newspaper, with the front headline announcing the theme of the sermon at church, and a picture of the milk bowl of the cat that was supposed to live inside it. They had torn and passed around the few copies of their newspaper only hours after they had received it, because in Haule only newspaper passed as paper, everything else was a figment of their Hollywood.
Open your eyes, great man, they called. Show us your name, they stretched their arms that had hands that clasped the papers. They willed him to rid them of their wonder, half crazed that they had jinxed it by wondering. They glanced at the keeper through her windows as the minutes passed, deciding, each man by himself, that she had decentered. But at a moment when every strained neck turned forward, the man who sat across Tower Clock opened his eyes.
They saw his sea eyes. They dropped their arms by their sides. They sat down on the intersection of two streets, under the green roof and the blue sky and they saw, awed, the great man from Hollywood. The great, great man who had granted Haule his presence across Tower Clock, the man they didn’t know was born blind.